Hearing exams are often neglected by both patients and physicians during the course of a routine health assessment, but as a preventative measure, it’s not a bad idea to have those ears occasionally checked before hearing loss becomes a very real concern for you.
With hearing loss commonly happening at such a gradual rate, it’s easy for it to progress into serious challenges before you even know what’s happening. A hearing specialist can help diagnose any developing problems through a hearing exam and come up with a plan for action.
Causes of hearing loss
Hearing loss can either be temporary and reversible or permanent depending on the area of the ear that is affected. If sounds aren’t reaching the inner ear properly common causes can be attributed to things like infection of the outer or middle ear, blockage in the ear canal, or a perforated eardrum.
This short-term type of loss can usually be treated with medication or surgical repair. Inner ear hearing problems can develop through long-term exposure to loud noises, diseases, head trauma, and genetics and pose a more severe risk for permanent damage. A hearing exam will determine which of these you are experiencing and to what extent.
Signs you need to establish a hearing exam routine
If you are considering taking the initiative and going in for annual hearing exam check-ups there are several things to consider that should point you in the right direction, including a family history of hearing loss, exposure to loud noises, trouble understanding conversations in everyday settings, trouble discerning types of voices and certain people and if you’ve already been diagnosed with hearing loss.
What happens in the exam room
A routine hearing exam can be conducted using several different methods. A whispered speech test tests each ear separately as the patient covers the opening of one. A hearing specialist will whisper words to be repeated by the patient. Pure tone audiometry tests use a machine to play a variety of sounds varying in pitch and frequency as the patient indicates what they can hear.
Often used in newborn hearing exams, automated otoacoustic emissions uses a computer attached to an earpiece to play noises and then measure the ear’s response. An auditory brainstem response involves placing sensors on the scalp and earlobes to test the response of nerves to noises played through headphones.
Benefits of a hearing exam
The benefits of receiving a hearing exam may seem obvious, but many people still go through life oblivious of what may be taking place inside them. Even if you aren’t experiencing hearing loss at the moment, an exam will help to monitor and prepare you for any signs of changes in your hearing, study the efficiency of your hearing instruments and identify any lifestyle or medical conditions that may contribute to future hearing problems.
If you are already being treated for hearing loss, it’s still a good idea to go in for maintenance of your hearing aids and any other treatment devices